It’s Halloween, time for a scary story.
And do I have one for you.
You may or may not believe in ghosts, that’s fine. Personally, I’m not sure what to believe but a part of me thinks that these things do happen.
And when they do it can be a terrifying experience.
This one came from a buddy of mine, who is/was a professional photojournalist.
One of the best, in fact. A guy you could depend on, when you needed good art from the Flames game, on the sports front on a Saturday night.
He saved me more than once.
But for the purposes of this column, let’s call him Scott. It’s best not to reveal any real names here.
This was a few years back and happened just north of Calgary, before there was even a CrossIron Mills mall. It was still empty prairie.
Scott and a bunch of his buddies had just picked up a case of beer and were looking for an isolated, out-of-the-way place to have a few brewskies on a hot August night.
They drove around just west of Balzac, found a gate and an empty field and pulled off, under a beautiful starry night. They didn’t mean to cause any trouble — it was just Scott and two buddies.
They got out and sat in the back of the pickup truck, having a nice cold one, shooting the breeze on a gorgeous warm night, the smell of the field permeating the night.
In other words, Alberta at its best.
But what would happen next would last a lifetime.
Scott suddenly noticed something odd — an uninvited guest was sitting next to him in the pickup bed!
It was the visage — let’s call it that for now — of a young, sad-looking girl, dressed in a period dress out of the 1800s.
Instinctively, Scott and his buddies jumped out of the truck like scared rabbits, everybody scattered.
Suddenly, this visage of a young prairie girl disappeared, only to reappear in the field standing next to Scott.
What the hell, he thought, I’ll try to communicate.
Scott, being ever the brave one, walked up to the visage.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
The visage would only look on, sadly, her long hair floating in the wind, which may have been real or imagined.
Scott was reaching out his hand to her when he heard the engine on his pickup revving loudly.
The buddies were terrified, wanting to leave now!
They were screaming at him: “Get in or we’re leaving you!”
Scott had no choice — he jumped into the pickup bed, as they roared off, the wheels spitting dirt into the air.
Scott remembers seeing her sad face as they drove away.
As strange as this story sounds, it didn’t end there.
One year later, Scott was on a hiking trail in K-Country.
By chance, he met another group of hikers, a nice young couple. They sat and chatted about nothing in particular until, for some reason, the subject came to ghosts.
The couple said they had the most amazing ghost story to tell.
They were driving near Balzac, in a thunderstorm, when … to their shock, they thought they saw a young girl with long hair and an old-fashioned dress, walking through a field.
Scott froze in fear, at those words — it brought everything back.
They searched for her, they said, fearing she needed help, but never found her.
Scott swore, the whole thing is true. The beer, the Balzac field, the girl, the hikers. All of it.
And not for a minute would I doubt him.
I’ll be honest. I’ve experienced some fairly odd things in my life but I have never actually seen a ghost.
And in some ways, I envy Scott. This kind of stuff fascinates me.
Who was this girl? Was she part of a ranching family? Why was her spirit so unsettled, that she had to wander. And why Balzac?
We will never know.
I actually know the exact spot where this happened and visited it on a warm summer night with my daughter Rica and her friend Stephanie, but all we saw were some curious cattle, no ghosts.
Sounds crazy, but I hope her spirit is now at rest. Or is it?
Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor.
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor for the Asia Times.
Royal Canadian Legion ‘saddened’ over vaccine-related protests
Several vaccine related incidents unfolded on Remembrance Day, including the desecration of a war memorial.
The BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion released a statement regarding vaccine related disruptions that took place during Remembrance Day ceremonies, as well as the desecration of a war memorial.
“We are the keepers of remembrance in Canada. As long as we exist we will uphold the tradition of remembrance to ensure Canada’s fallen will not be forgotten,” said Val MacGregor, President of BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“We are saddened that anyone would feel it necessary to distract from the sacrifice of our veterans and their families with political agendas. Especially, on Remembrance Day.”
In Cranbrook, RCMP were notified that someone defaced the cities Cenotaph mere hours before the Remembrance Day ceremony was set to take place. Spray-painted across the memorial were the words “the real heroes are the vaccinated.”
In Kelowna, police were called to an unofficial Remembrance Day event at City Park where hundreds of people gathered to pay respect to fallen Canadians. Amid the gathering, a small handful of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine related measures set up a microphone and began speaking over attendees.
“Have you forgotten? You have forgotten,” the woman interrupting the ceremony says.
Standing to her left was Bruce Orydzuk, a well known protester in the Kelowna area who went viral in July after berating a security guard at a vaccine clinic.
“I was there with my wife. Veterans were quite upset and a lot of people were screaming at each other. Never thought a remembrance day ceremony would be controversial but here we are. Really sad,” tweeted Matt Glen.
“Not the right time, not the right place,” one man can be heard shouting.
About 166 km away, a similar incident unfolded in Kamloops at the Riverside Park Cenotaph where people had organized their own unofficial ceremony before it was sidelined by anti-mandate protesters.
After going viral, the two latter incidents prompted wide-scale dispute on social media among individuals who would have been fundamentally aligned not so long ago.
Following the provincial declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020, British Columbians have been subjected to 19 months of lock-downs, vaccine passports, and forced business closures. Many live in a state of frustration and rage as a result — thus leading to more forceful behaviour such as what was displayed on Remembrance Day.
“Government breaks soldiers after extracting everything it can out of them. They then leave them with a single day of the year to be acknowledged,” Kip Warner, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) told the Western Standard.
“Protesters have 364 days of the year to protest and be heard. Whether they are protesting COVID-19 related measures, or advocating for them in recently spray painting over a war memorial that the real heroes are the injected, stop doing it. We are Canadians and we should all expect better of ourselves.”
Warner served as an infantry officer in a light infantry regiment part-time for four years while working in tech. He now spearheads CSASPP, a non-profit organization that seeks to reverse COVID-19 related measures in BC. So far CSASPP has raised nearly $150,000 — all of which is regularly audited and available for donors to monitor. No members receive any profit.
The organization’s progress — which has seen three days in court thus far — can be followed here.
While there are a multitude of like-minded individuals across the province working meticulously to combat what they perceive as blatant tyranny on behalf of the state, their endeavour is not simple, and it is frequently sidelined by hot-heads seemingly incapable of reading the room.
“Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window,” writes former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss in his book Never Split the Difference.
Voss has explained how human beings are influenced by the level of respect they feel they’re given — complying in response to perceived fairness, whilst lashing out at what they feel is unfair.
As for unfairness, veterans living in BC are not allowed to enter fitness facilities, attend sporting events, or even grab a drink at a restaurant if they are unvaccinated — and the Royal Canadian Legion has not condemned the policy. This treatment of not only those who have served, but British Columbians as a whole, provides causal explanation for the lashing out of protesters as of recently — it is human nature, after all.
Capuchin monkeys behave the same way when treated unfairly.
However, what separates human beings from monkeys is the ability feel emotion well up from the carnal abyss, and subsequently detach from it. An understanding that lashing out — although feeling like the right move — may serve no benefit in a specific context.
This can be be observed in the Kelowna example. The outcome of which not only lacked benefit towards the cause protesters claim to be fighting for, but sent potential fence-sitters running the other direction. The scene resembled little difference from a bunch of capuchin monkeys screeching over who gets the banana — all the while those in power swirl their scotch glasses, laughing opportunistically at how they will further exploit the chaos.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “a state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
The narrative peddled from the top down is that Canadians are locked in a deadly war with a virus and therefore sweeping mandates must be implemented for “our safety.” This narrative has driven people into not only accepting, but encouraging the states’ ever tightening grasp. The policies are masked under compassion, but beneath the sheepskin resides an opportunistic snake — and to assume human beings have evolved beyond our proclivity towards consented despotism is detrimentally naive.
Pulling back from the brink requires a methodical approach. Attempting to change one’s beliefs by interrupting and scolding them is like trying to push water uphill, and those who do so fail to recognize how they themselves are contributors to the problem they claim to fight.
WATCH: Calgary psychologist says lockdowns, mandates creating serious mental crisis
From people fearing the collapse of our healthcare system to government mandates, Dr. Angela Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”
A prominent Calgary psychologist said she’s seen an increase in clients coming to her in crisis — especially frontline and healthcare workers — over the last 20 months.
Registered psychologist Dr. Angela Grace shared her perspective on supporting her clients through the COVID-19 pandemic in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.
Along with providing “trauma work” for first responders in her private practice at Heart Centered Counselling, Grace also offers professional counselling and school assessments for children.
“What I found immediately [when the pandemic began] was an increase in crisis in clients,” said Grace, who explained she was also navigating the complexity of pivoting from in-person to online counselling, while also dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on her children and family.
“What was a seven-out-of-10 crisis before is now a 12 out of 10. What was a client who was doing really really well and hadn’t been to counselling in a while was all of the sudden back in the chair in distress.”
Grace said her clients went from worrying about the pandemic and how life was going to change for them and their families to worrying about decisions around getting the COVID-19 vaccine or not and the bullying and isolation people faced with that “tough decision.”
She said she has also seen an increase in first responders and healthcare workers coming to see her in distress over the fear of losing their careers and livelihoods due to mandatory vaccination policies.
“It’s moving beyond a sense of stress and trauma from the pandemic to now moving into moral injuries,” said Grace.
Medical workers have gone from “being a praised hero” to being “vilified because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” said Grace adding that normal job stressors for these workers have been exaggerated so much more because of these moral injuries.
Grace said the situation created “confusion and mistrust” among healthcare workers and first responders who navigated through the first, second and third waves of the pandemic without being vaccinated but have now been told they can no longer work unless they get the jab.
“Not only is there this divisiveness, but there’s this increasing lack of trust they (medical workers) are going to be taken care of,” said Grace.
According to Grace, children are also being impacted by the pandemic, especially those from divorced homes where parents have differing opinions on issues around how to best protect their children.
Teens “have really been struggling,” said Grace.
“Since the beginning of COVID, there has been a tremendous increase in eating disorders,” said Grace, who explained it’s often a result of an inability to cope and social isolation.
Grace said much of the social anxiety for teens is centred around returning to school after gaps of time when normal socialization was absent.
For younger children, especially those in the formative years, Grace said those learning gaps are leading to children missing out on normal development without the foundation of normal schooling.
From people fearing the collapse of the healthcare system to lockdowns and mandatory vaccination and masking, Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”
Grace said she is also concerned post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be a “massive burden” on society in the coming months.
“We are in traumatic stress right now. We have to survive the trauma then the healing can happen,” said Grace.
When asked for her advice to those dealing with heightened anxiety and stress, Grace said the first step is to “acknowledge the stressors and reach out for help.”
“As much as possible, shut off the news, shut off social media and focus on what do I need to do today to look after myself and my family,” said Grace.
Turning to exercise, hobbies, art, games, colouring, pets and mindfulness activities are some other ways Grace suggests people handle feelings of stress, isolation and depression. She also highlighted the importance of “continuing to build connections”, whether by phone or video chats.
“I call it pockets of peace; what are the things you do in your everyday life — every day, every week, every month — routines that give you a sense of peace and calm,” said Grace.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also be an issue for people through the dark winter months, Grace explained admitting she suffers from the disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter months leaving those affected feeling tired and moody.
To ward off the effects of SAD, Grace suggests taking Vitamin C, D and Omega fatty acids and eating nutrient-rich foods as well as investing in a SAD lamp and spending 15-20 minutes in front of it daily.
Grace also pointed to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta website as a referral source for seeking a professional psychologist and recommended their free resources, webinars and tip sheets.
Albertans can access help from the Mental Health Foundation Alberta, the Distress Centre and the Calgary Counselling Centre while the Kids Help Phone and the Canadian Mental Health Association are national support providers.
Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
Elon Musk’s nine must-read books
Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to reading books.
When Elon Musk tires of the world of AI, solar energy and underground tunnelling beneath Los Angeles, what’s left but to get lost in a good book?
Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to the printed word, according to an article on blinkist.com
“I read books,” Musk said when asked how he learned to build rockets.
Here are the nine must-read books Musk believes everyone should read:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Wikipedia description: “Steve Jobs is the authorized self-titled biography of American business magnate and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The book was written at the request of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and TIME who has written best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.”
Human Compatible by Stuart Russell
Wikipedia description: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control is a 2019 non-fiction book by computer scientist Stuart J. Russell. It asserts that risk to humanity from advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is a serious concern despite the uncertainty surrounding future progress in AI.”
Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Wikipedia description: “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future is a 2014 book by the American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, co-written with Blake Masters. It is a condensed and updated version of the highly popular set of online notes taken by Masters for the CS183 class on startups, as taught by Thiel at Stanford University in spring 2012.”
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
Wikipedia description: “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT and a hole in the ozone layer.”
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
Wikipedia description: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark from MIT. Life 3.0 discusses Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the future of life on earth and beyond. The book discusses a variety of societal implications, what can be done to maximize the chances of a positive outcome and potential futures for humanity, technology and combinations thereof.”
The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll
Wikipedia description: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself is a non-fiction book by American theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll, published in 2016. In his fourth book, Carroll defends the argument the universe can be completely interpreted by science, introducing “poetic naturalism” as a philosophy that explains the world.”
Lying by Sam Harris
Wikipedia description: “Lying is a 2011 long-form essay book by American author and neuroscience expert Sam Harris. Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
Wikipedia description: “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is a 2014 book by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford. It argues if machine brains surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new super intelligence could replace humans as the dominant life form on Earth. Sufficiently intelligent machines could improve their own capabilities faster than human computer scientists and the outcome could be an existential catastrophe for humans.”
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Wikipedia description: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title, The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”
Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
Sask Polytech ditches vax policy but burdens unvaxxed with testing costs
BRADLEY: No Central Bank Digital Currency can stack up to Bitcoin
ROYER: Canada ignores Alberta. Because it can
Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered to stand trial
The Western Standard Is Back
BC doc says he’s found blood clots in 62% of post-jab patients
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